‘It wasn’t fair’: Why an Ontario school isn’t letting a sick girl go to prom

Prom is considered a rite of passage for many teenagers, but one St. Catharines student has been told she’ll have to stay home.

Katie Bialy, 17, told Global News her school principal won’t allow her to go because her grades are not in good standing.

The Holy Cross Catholic School student said a medical condition has prevented her from completing any school work this year.

“I felt like I was being punished for being sick and I thought it wasn’t fair,” Bialy said.

She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in May 2012. EDS is a connective tissue disorder that causes her joints to disconnect at any moment.

“While typing, my fingers dislocate. So it gets really hard. And I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to school work. I get really nervous,” she said.

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The genetic condition with no cure is also associated with a lot of pain and discomfort.

“If you ever have a sports injury, you have pain from that and there’s a certain period of time that that pain goes away,” said Sandy Smeenk, executive director of  Improving the Life of Children (ILC ) Foundation, which has been providing a network of support to Bialy.

“In the case of chronic pain and for EDS, that pain is constant and persistent,” she continued.

With her mobility impacted, Bialy is completing her education through online courses offered by her school.

Bialy has only completed 16 of the 30 credits needed to graduate but said she wants to go to prom in order to celebrate with friends, who started high school with her four years ago.

She inquired about going as a guest of a friend but said her principal would not allow it.

“I understood where she was coming from that I haven’t been doing work, but when she said I couldn’t even go as a guest, I felt like it was personal,” she said.

For her mother, the mere mention of her daughter not being able to attend prom made her tear up.

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“It  hurts me. This should be a wonderful time for her. I should be taking her dress shopping,” said Donna Koiter.

When Bialy does graduate, she still won’t get to go to prom. Once students past the age of 18 work to complete a high school diploma, they will be enrolled in the Adult and Community Education Program. According to Bialy, students enrolled in the program do not attend prom.

Global News has reached out to the principal who referred all comments to the school board. No word as of yet from the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

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